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Archive for the month “March, 2016”

The Wayward Women: Kind Words

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Here are some flattering words from a debut audience member, Patrick Bushnell

“Hey Chicago friends,
I had the pleasure of seeing a very entertaining play in the Shakespearean style last night. Enjoy all of the word-play, sharp wit, and bawdiness that you love from that period. The actors and actresses all delivered fantastic performances with great presence, enthusiasm, and expression. The intimate setting at this theater affords you the joy of seeing their expressions up close, giving you a feeling of almost being part of the show.
The costume design by Delena Bradley was simply terrific; the costumes were beautiful and obviously meticulously crafted, and helped immensely to set the scene for the show. Also contributing to the atmosphere was the lighting. Quite often, the lighting of a show does not stand out to me; but this show was greatly enhanced by some outstanding lighting designs. They lent themselves perfectly to specific themes and emotions.
I enjoyed this play so much that I went on a research hunt to find out who penned it. To my surprise, I couldn’t find “The Wayward Women” anywhere. After a little more digging, I found out that Jared McDaris wrote this himself! I can’t stress this enough, I was astounded this wasn’t an actual Shakespeare play that I somehow missed- he displays such a talent for writing dialogue that I will endeavor to see any play he’s written.
I cannot recommend this show enough; go, have a couple drinks, and see this play. It is original, playful, hilarious, and you can tell that every single person involved in this production put everything they had into it.
A solid 4 of 4 stars; do yourself a favor and go see “The Wayward Women”. I promise you will have a fantastic experience. To top it all off, tickets are only $3!! Don’t forget to let all of these wonderful folks know what you thought of it. Support your local thespians!”

And that’s just dandy.

THE WAYWARD WOMEN
March 17 – April 2
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays @ 7:00pm
Mary’s Attic, 5400 N Clark St
$3 at the Door

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The Wayward Women: Wooing

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“My brest has stirred in thee, fine boy, and I / Am render’d simple. Tongue nor supple brain / Can tell what artistry lives in thine eyes.” Aquiline (Guilly Guire) woos the fair Cordelius (Jack Sharkey)

Perhaps not surprisingly, Aquiline’s wooing of Cordelius mirrors Hal’s wooing of Katherine, though it lacks the sinister undertones of conquest. Like Katherine, Cordelius has been removed from his seat of power and is very much a fish out of water. Like Katherine, he does not trust his wooer’s intentions. And most tellingly like Katherine, Cordelius is concerned that his potential paramour’s words of love are salted with domination. The Swiss gentleman does not like to be made to feel unmanly, and he is clearly used to being the hero of his own story (as well as everyone else’s story).

It’s in this respect, I think, that The Wayward Women most overtly comments on gender roles in Shakespeare. Cordelius serves as the primary love interest of more than one character. Consequently, though he is often the center of everyone’s conversations (so much so that this six-women-to-four-men play strains the Bechdal Test), he is granted very little agency in his own fate.

A woman’s lack of agency in Shakespeare is, I think, most evident in his histories. Katherine’s demurring to Hal brings us a happy ending with a ‘proper’ queen. Margaret’s refusal to submit to Henry VI brings us a three-play tragedy (though King Henry VI himself is also indicted, the “unmanly” king to Margaret’s “unwomanly” queen, which has its comic parallel in Joan of Arc and the Dauphin). You can of course also see this in Taming of the Shrew’s Kate or the older noblewomen of Richard III and King John. Shakespeare does occasionally throw a bone to a woman’s intellect with Beatrice or the Princess of France or either Rosalind, and of course many of the ‘howling stereotypes’ are more complicated than they initially appear, but one need look no farther than Luciana and Adriana (at the beginning of his career) or Miranda and Sycorax (and the end) to conclude how ‘proper womanhood’ was generally defined in Elizabethan and Jacobean England, at least in their literature. It’s these standards that are applied to Cordelius, and he does not care for it. Not one bit. Unlike most of Shakespeare’s women, however, Cordelius is granted the right to complain of the inequity of it all.

In this little scene, Quill (Aquiline) echos Hal’s tripping tongue, though her desire is motivated solely by strict romanticism and not by political convenience. Indeed, Quill’s concerns of being forced to marry Cordelius after enjoying his fruits are soundly squashed by Dame Grendela (Quill’s personal Falstaff) in the previous scene. With echos of Romeo and Troilus, Quill is a direct contrast to a woman’s romantic agency in Shakespeare’s work, where our best examples of female independence (in matters of wooing) come again from Queen Margaret (accomplice in a premeditated affair) and Tamara (the same), both of whom are depicted as immoral and even “unnatural.” Later in Shakespeare’s career, sexual independence can be found minutely in Lear’s elder daughters, both of whom are directly called “unnatural hags.” Shakespeare may have held the mirror up to nature, but that mirror was certainly not always a flattering one, frequently revealing the prejudices of the times. To be fair, he commented on those prejudices as well, and some of his independent *and* intelligent women came to happy ends (Rosalind, Beatrice, and arguably Adriana and even Bianca).

COSTUMES by Delena Bradley
LIGHTING by Benjamin Dionysus
PHOTO by iNDie Grant Productions

The Wayward Women: The Duel

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Dame Anu (Sarah Bell) and Cordelius (Jack Sharkey) engage in a “friendly” spar

“The Duel” pits two cliches against each other. On one hand, we have Cordelius: the cocky man who is invariably put down in a physical confrontation with a more experienced woman. On the other hand, we have Dame Anu: the pompous blowhard who his invariably put down in a physical confrontation with an underdog. It’s a sort-of unstoppable force meets immoveable object situation.

Though short on poison and political intrigue, the Dual also has some parallels with Hamlet’s famous climax: it too is broken into three parts, and it too features combatants who are only pretending this is casual fun.

In addition to good ol’ spectacle, the Duel solidifies each character’s opinion of the other, strongly influencing their future relationship (such as it is).

COSTUMES by Delena Bradley
LIGHTING by Benjamin Dionysus
PHOTO by iNDie Grant Productions

The Wayward Women: Sin Boldly

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Dame Grendela (Alex Boroff) pontificates to ‘Dame Joanne’ (Adrian Garcia) and squire Aquiline (Gilly Guire)

Writing a consequence-free boozer is never easy for me (being a teetotaler), but I took some solace in Grendela’s strong, thinly-disguised hypocrisy. Though she paints herself as a blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth rogue, she makes a clear distinction between highborn and lowborn men (a distinction that she, in an added layer of hypocrisy, pretends to find irrelevant). She is a manipulative bully toward those weaker than herself, yet falls apart and plays the victim as soon as anyone stands up to her (not unlike a certain presidential candidate).

And I suppose, like Sir Toby Belch, Dame Grendela’s bacchanalian lifestyle is not totally without consequence, but you’ll have to come watch the show to learn what those consequences are.

However, just like real people, the drunken hypocrite Dame Grendela still has some valuable things to say. In 2.1, she admonishes her depressed and uncertain squire to never regret being punished for fun and folly: most people endure the same punishments for sinning much more conservatively, “but we will do contrition For Our Sins, and Not the Pondering of them.” Much like Martin Luther (another inspiring hypocrite), Dame Grendela tells us to sin boldly.

COSTUMES by Delena Bradley
LIGHTING by Benjamin Dionysus
PHOTO by INDie Grant Productions, LLC

The Wayward Women: Dame Anu’s Letter Soliloquy

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Dame Anu (Sarah Bell), Act 4 Scene 2

Dame Anu’s Letter Speech is an obvious homage to Malvolio’s Letter Speech in Twelfth Night. Although it has been “streamlined,” removing any interjections from other characters, and it lacks the perennially perplexing puzzler, “M.O.A.I.,” I think Anu’s letter still offers some food for thought. Forged by Dame Grendela (a female Sir Toby by-way-of Fluellen), the letter seems perfectly structured to gull Anu into revealing a side of herself she has hidden her entire life. Grendela, then, somehow possesses unique knowledge of exactly what Anu wants in a man, and precisely how she wants Cordelius to express those attributes. She even knows how to quell Anu’s concerns for her own reputation, and feigns a willingness to cooperate in her hypocrisy without actually calling it hypocrisy. It appears that Dame Grendela knows Anu better than she does herself, or even better than Grendela knows herself (based on some reactions we see to other speeches in the play).

Twelfth Night speaks a lot about holding in our desires, especially romantic desires, and how this can warp us. Nowhere is this more strongly paralleled in The Wayward Women than with the poor. proud Dame Anu.

COSTUMES by Delena Bradley
LIGHTING by Benjamin Dionysus
PHOTO by INDie Grant Productions, LLC

The Wayward Women: Quill’s Moon Speech

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Gilly Guire as Aquiline, Act 4, Scene 3 of The Wayward Women

Aquiline’s Moon Speech is a direct parallel of Prince Hal’s Sun Speech from Henry IV Part 1.
Hal’s speech always struck me as smug and superior; he seems to be insisting that it’s okay for him to fart around like these inferior folks because he knows he is above all that. He makes it sound deliberate, like he is intentionally ignoring his responsibilities so that he will be all the more impressive when he finally decides to do his job. The first time I read this, I immediately thought of Old Testament passages where a wrathful god visits horrors on an unsuspecting population specifically (and by his own admission) to show everyone how great he is. There have of course been performances where Hal seems more like he’s trying to convince himself of this rather than resting on the laurels that a historically-informed playwright has granted him, and it’s those interpretations that helped bring me to Quill and the Moon Speech. (The speech itself was suggested by Amy Harmon; I was too starstruck to refuse).
While Hal’s Sun Speech is an overt nod to one man’s ascension to take responsibility for his divinely-bestowed birthright, Quill’s Moon Speech (I hope) is more a contemplation of an entire generation that has been given no purpose nor guidance, told that the greatest generations came before them, and responds to this paralyzing criticism by deciding to find their own ways, no matter how many paths, mistakes, or identities that might require.
COSTUMES by Delena Bradley
LIGHTING by Benjamin Dionysus
PHOTO by INDie Grant Productions, LLC

The Wayward Women: Alexandra Boroff

Boroff HSTHE WAYWARD WOMEN opens TONIGHT at Mary’s Attic (5400 N Clark St)

ALEXANDRA BOROFF plays DAME GRENDELA

Q: How long have you been in Chicago?
ALEXANDRA:
I have been in Chicago for 8.5 years now. I work with 2 companies more than anything else. The first is Unrehearsed Shakespeare where I am the Managing Director (performing As You Like It in late April!) and the second is EDGE Theatre, where I am the General Manager (gearing up for 1776 in September!).

Q: What can you tell us about Dame Grendela the Green?
ALEXANDRA: Dame Grendela is a loud, confident, aggressive Knight in Amosa. She feels that drinking, partying, and sleeping around improves her character and makes her a better warrior. You might compare her to Shakespeare’s Toby Belch or Falstaff. Try not to be offended by her lack of filter, but sit back and enjoy the ride!

Q: THE WAYWARD WOMEN takes place on the fictional isle of Amosa, a matriarchal society. Does this differ much from other plays you’ve performed in? Does it affect your performance at all?
ALEXANDRA: I have not performed many roles based in a fictional matriarchal society, but I have had the great pleasure of playing some similar characters in Shakespeare during my work in Unrehearsed Shakespeare. In the past I’ve been able to play Toby Belch (from Twelfth Night) and Don Pedro (from Much Ado About Nothing). Also, in college, I was in a wonderful show called North Shore Fish by Israel Horowitz where I played a similarly blunt, loud, aggressive woman named Josie from north Boston. These characters absolutely inspire my take on Grendela. My work with Unrehearsed Shakespeare specifically taught me how to get the audience on my side and break through the 4th wall, and that is incredibly useful in this role!

Q: What experience do you have with Shakespeare? Have you got a favorite Elizabethan play? Character?
ALEXANDRA: I studied Shakespeare a bit in high school and really fell in love with the plays in college. My favorite play is Twelfth Night. I have always said my favorite character was Maria, but I think in the past few years Toby Belch is coming in a close second. They lead with joy and don’t focus inward on the negative things in life. I love Shakespeare because it forces me to tell the story with both my voice and my body to get the message across to those unfamiliar with the plays. I love performing for people new to Shakespeare and seeing them fall in love with the stories with me!

Q: Dame Grendela is an expert warrior, boozer, and insulter. Do you relate at all to this character, or is she a complete stranger to you?
ALEXANDRA: I am an expert warrior, boozer, and insulter myself! Except, I don’t know how to fight, and don’t really drink that much. I insult with the best of them though. I’ve been told that I’m quite sarcastic and good at twisting people’s words for my own amusement, so I guess I have that in common with Grendela. I think what I relate to the most is her desire to tell stories. Grendela likes to paint pictures with her words and be the center of attention in the room. If that means taking stage physically or vocally, she’ll do it. I think I have the tendency to take over a room when I want to, be that a positive trait or not 🙂

Q: Do you have a favorite line?
ALEXANDRA: I have 2!
1) “Pray call me Pandemonium, name me satyr. Faunus in the flesh, for I will sport most ev’ry way it could be said.”
2) “..we will do contrition for our Sins and not the pondering of them.”

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with us! Ponder not!
THE WAYWARD WOMEN
March 17 – April 2

Thursdays, Fridays, & Saturdays
7:00pm
Mary’s Attic, 5400 N Clark Street
$3 at the Door

The Wayward Women: Adrian Garcia

agheadshot2THE WAYWARD WOMEN opens March 17 at Mary’s Attic (5400 N Clark St)

ADRIAN GARCIA plays JULIAN

Q: How long have you been in Chicago?
ADRIAN
: I grew up in a small town called Crete, Illinois, about an hour south of here, and my father lived in the city during my formative years, so Chicago has always felt like home to me. I left Illinois in 2006 to attend college in New Hampshire, but came back soon after graduating in 2010. I’ve been living here since and working with a number of theater companies in both performance and educational positions.

Q: What can you tell us about Julian?
ADRIAN: Julian is the young servant to Cordelius. Fate has blessed him with good nature, a sharp wit, and a logical outlook on life; unfortunately he is trapped by his servitude. I think audiences will love Julian’s humor and cross-dressing. I don’t know if Julian sticks with Cordelius out of love, loyalty, or because he’s stuck in that position, but I think his willingness to jump into strange situations for his master is admirable.

Q: THE WAYWARD WOMEN is set on the fictional Island of Amosa, a matriarchal society. Does this differ much from other performances?
ADRIAN: I’ve been in a number of plays with strong female characters, but none have ever had an entire world based on matriarchy. I think it’s great! I think it adds a fun level to my, and subsequently, Julian’s “performance” as Dame Joanne, to have to fit into this seemingly much different world.

Q: What experience do you have with Shakespeare? Have you got a favorite play? Character?
ADRIAN: I’ve loved Shakespeare since my first reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 7th grade and from the first time I saw one of his plays produced:  The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Chicago Shakes in 8th grade. One of my biggest thrills in college was studying acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and seeing world-class theater–especially Shakespeare–performed. My favorite play is still Midsummer. I’ve seen it at Chicago Shakes, The Globe in London, and at Royal Shakespeare Theatre. I’ve been in it twice (as Mercutio and as Flute/Thisby). After having such great exposure to Shakespeare in England, classmates and I went on to create The Dartmouth Rude Mechanicals–Dartmouth College’s first and only student-run Shakespeare troupe, founded in 2008 and still going strong today. We would audition for each other, cast each other by blind vote, and we directed all of our shows cooperatively. In my mind, there is still nowhere as gorgeous as the BEMA for outdoor Shakespeare– a green clearing with a natural stone stage, hilly background, and surrounded by trees. I don’t know if I have a favorite character, but Mercutio, Bottom, and Feste are definitely up there.

Q: Julian spends much of the play pretending to be higher-status than he really is, yet still doesn’t seem to derive much power from this. Do you relate to this character at all, or is he a complete stranger to you?
ADRIAN: I think a lot of people, myself included, can relate to the feeling of being smarter than whoever is giving the orders. Lots of people know better, but can’t do better because of their position In life. For me, Julian has the potential to be a miserably downtrodden character, but he tries to be optimistic even as nothing goes his way. I can relate to that a little bit, and at the least I find it an admirable quality that I would like to have in my own life.

Q: Favorite line?
ADRIAN: My favorite line, to paraphrase, is when Dame Anu calls Dame Grendela “This distillery that ambleth as a woman.” I’m not sure why, but that line absolutely tickles me.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
ADRIAN: I’m very excited to be a part of this production. It’s a rare treat to have such complex and beautiful language to play with in a play written recently. I’m thrilled to share that with an audience. Like a Shakespeare show, I expect no one in the audience will catch every joke, every reference, and every turn of phrase Jared has sprinkled into this poetic and dense piece; however, I have all the faith in the world that our very talented cast will bring it to life well enough to be enjoyed by everyone.

Come! Let us tickle you!

THE WAYWARD WOMEN
March 17 – April 2

Thursdays, Fridays, & Saturdays
7:00pm
Mary’s Attic, 5400 N Clark Street
$3 at the Door

The Wayward Women: Lauren Miller

Lauren Miller HS copyTHE WAYWARD WOMEN opens March 17 at Mary’s Attic (5400 N Clark St)

LAUREN MILLER plays DOTARA, THE MAGISTRESS

Q: How long have you been in Chicago?
LAUREN: Chicago?  We’re on an island.  Who ARE you?  Males have limited privileges here, but I do have some power in that regard…

Q: What can you tell us about The Magistress?
LAUREN: The Magistress is The Most Important Person in the entire show.  Why do you ask?

Q: THE WAYWARD WOMEN is set on the fictional Island of Amosa, a matriarchal society. Does this differ much from other performances?
LAUREN
: This matriarchal thing is a total misunderstanding.  Our real problem is that we have zero diversity.  Men coming along occasionally is scant comfort in that regard.  And you can only imagine the issues that GLBT folks endure here, it is a quite a problem.  Of course staying in closets beats the hell out of standing behind curtains waiting to be stabbed, so I guess that’s something.

Q: What experience do you have with Shakespeare? Have you got a favorite play? Character?
LAUREN
: Who’s that?  You mean that Willy??  Is he Jewish???  How old????

Q: Like many of Shakespeare’s advisers, the Magistress enjoys little control over others, and in fact (like some Poloniuses) often has a poor understanding of what’s going on. Do you relate to this character at all, or is she a complete stranger to you?
LAUREN: Oy, this control thing.  Working here is like having to herd cats, I have to tell you.  I should contact my union.

Q: Do you have a favorite line?
LAUREN: Yes.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
LAUREN: Where’s the tequila? This is hard work.

Did we mention this play is performed in a Bar?

THE WAYWARD WOMEN
March 17 – April 2

Thursdays, Fridays, & Saturdays
7:00pm
Mary’s Attic, 5400 N Clark Street
$3 at the Door

The Wayward Women: Gilly Guire

1484091_647280595318248_821671476_nTHE WAYWARD WOMEN opens March 17 at Mary’s Attic (5400 N Clark St)

GILLY GUIRE plays AQUILINE, THE SQUIRE

Q: How long have you been in Chicago?
GILLY: I’ve been in Chicago just over a year and a half, since August of 2014, and I have had the pleasure of working with a variety of fabulous companies on an array of different styles. It has been the spice of life, man! Spice of life!

Q: What can you tell us about Aquiline, the squire?
GILLY: I would describe Aquiline as a young buck with the spirit and struggles of a New Year’s resolutioner. She’s full of vigor and expectation – for the world and for herself. I think her desire for truth makes her tick – and her desire to do the right thing (but she is caught between the myriad definitions of what that is from her society). I would liken it to our society’s array of definitions for “true manhood.” Amosa offers just as many suggestions for “true knighthood,” and I think our audience will be able to relate to Aquiline’s humanity and her desire for finding that truth once and for all.

Q: THE WAYWARD WOMEN takes place on the fictional isle of Amosa, a matriarchal society. Does this differ much from other plays you’ve performed in? Does it affect your performance at all?
GILLY: I’ve not had much opportunity to explore reversed gender norms in play, and I feel lucky to be thrown into the thick of it with The Wayward Women. It has been an exceedingly satisfying experience. Hahah. Much fun!

Q: What experience do you have with Shakespeare? Have you got a favorite Elizabethan play? Character?
GILLY: I’ve had the pleasure of taking the Unrehearsed Shakespeare workshop and have always been interested in ol’ Billy Shakes. I’ve only been in a couple Shakespeare productions and I adore me some sonnets, too.
Fave? Love me some Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. Mmm. All that moxie, though.

Q: Aquiline is one of those rare individuals who strives for greatness and is frequently distracted from it, yet seems perfectly aware of her own failings. Do you relate to this character at all, or is she a complete stranger to you?
GILLY: Oh, indubitably. I feel like I continue to find parallels between Aquiline and myself – which is both exciting and sobering. 🙂

Q: Do you have a favorite line?
GILLY: Hard to choose just one! Of my lines it’s either “Avaunt, pisspole,” or “Thou Saturn tat, thou tale-bearing toad.” (Is that the bell? ‘Cause you just got schooled!).

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
GILLY: Gilly Guire is Quill the Squire. Cheeky/freaky, is’t not?

Join us! Get cheeky! Get freaky!

THE WAYWARD WOMEN
March 17 – April 2
Thursdays, Fridays, & Saturdays
7:00pm
Mary’s Attic, 5400 N Clark Street
$3 at the Door

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